Custom Rim 411 – Part 1 – Wheel Types
Custom Wheels and Rims 41 – Aluminum, Aluminum Alloy or Steel. Why aluminum? As with tires, wheels fall into some basic categories, all of which have to do with their construction. Almost all the high performance and aftermarket wheels in the import tuner segment are made from aluminum alloy. Although people used to call them mags years ago. Mag was short for magnesium wheels, which were popular with racers in the 1960s for their light weight character. Mag wheels burned when they got to hot though, so their use was short lived.
Aluminum or Aluminum Alloy are lighter and stronger than steel and weight is a big issue with wheels. Along with the tires and brakes, wheels are considered “unsprung” weight, meaning they are not supported by the vehicles suspension. If you can reduce the weight of your wheels, you will find your handling to be much better and more responsive, as the steering system won’t require as much effort to push them around. Plus, taking off weight in general helps you to go faster. So an Aluminum Alloy wheel is a win win situation.
Custom Rim 411 – Part 2 – Casting
Two different processes are used to make wheels – Casting and Forging! In general terms Forged wheels are stronger and lighter than Cast wheels. To cast a wheel, molting aluminum is poured into a mold and allowed to cool. This forms the basic wheel shape. When it comes out of the mold it is machined to remove excess aluminum, cut in the bolt pattern and hub circle and size to the mount pad. Then the wheel is finished by polishing, painting and plating.
Cast wheel cost less and is designer friendly, unlike forged wheels. However, it takes more aluminum to make a cast wheel and using more aluminum adds weight. One example weights 15 pounds forged and the same cast wheel weights in at 20 pounds.
Custom Rim 411 – Part 3 – Forging
Two different processes are used to make wheels – Casting and Forging! In general terms Forged wheels are stronger and lighter than Cast wheels. With Forging, aluminum billets are pressed into dies under extreme pressure, which shape the billet into the wheel. That wheel then goes through a machining – finishing process like the cast wheel. Since the forged aluminum is stronger less can be used without sacrificing structural integrity, which result in a lighter wheel.
With Forging it is hard to create curved spokes and intricate wheel center designs. So you will notice that most forged wheels have straight, flat spokes. Forged wheels usually cost more and weight less.
Custom Rim 411 – Part 4 – Two Piece Wheels
Two different processes are used to make wheels – Casting and Forging! These wheels are known as one piece wheels. Some wheels combine a forged outer hoop with a cast center. These wheels are known as two piece wheels and are welded or riveted together to form the wheel. Both the one piece and two piece custom wheels each have an advantage.
Produced in high volume one piece wheels are generally less expensive to make with an offset that will fit many different cars. Two piece wheels offer greater fitment flexibility as the center section can be welded in a number of of places within the rim to create a variety of offsets. This is especially important when trying to fit a car where the front and rear offsets don’t match.
Custom Rim 411 – Part 5 – Three-Piece Wheels
Multi-Piece Wheels are usually three parts assembled together to produce a finished wheel. This type of wheel construction was orginally developed for racing in the early 1970s. The orginal benefit of three piece wheels was the abality to change damaged parts without having to replace the whole wheel.
Three piece rim sections offer the ability to custom tailor wheels for special applications. The rim section for three piece wheels are either roll formed or spun forged from blocks of aluminum. Multi-Piece Wheels can use many different methods of manufacturing the center design such as casting or forging. Brands like Brabus, Lowenhart, Lorinser, Maya, Maido, Volk Racing, Racing Hart and 5-Zigen use cast centers. The three piece wheels are most popular on 18 inch and larger wheels with width as large as 13 inches.
Custom Rim 411 – part 6 – More on Cast Wheels
Casting is the most common method of producing custom wheels. The process basically involves getting molten aluminum inside of a mold to form a wheel. Gravity casting is the most basic process of pouring molten aluminum into a mold utilizing gravity to fill the mold. Since this process relys on gravity to fill the mold it is not as densely packed and has small air pockets that could create stress cracks. Additionally gravity cast custom wheels will have a higher weight.
Low Pressure casting uses positive pressure to move the molten aluminum into the mold quicker to produce a wheel that is more dense and has improved mechanical properties. Tilt Die Casting is a fairly new process of casting wheels. The mold is tilted to 90 degrees and then the mold is filled quickly and moved back to it’s original position. This process reduced the amount of bubles and air pockets. Due to the high cost few manfacturers use this process.
Custom Rim 411 – part 7 – What’s Hot In Custom Wheels
What’s Hot In Custom Wheels – SUV Wheel diameters keep getting bigger, with diameter running as big as 28 and even over 30 inches. Some wheel manufacturers and dealers report that even Honda Civic owners are asking for 19s. As body kit shapes change, so will wheels. Wide body kits need extra deep wheels to fill the fenders and manufacturers are filling the need.
There are new wheel finish options such as paint and machining techniques combination on the surface of the same wheel. With new trends in the works there will always be changes in the way custom wheels look. Check out all our Bargain Car Rims resources. Find Custom Rims by price and size plus Wheel and tire packages.
1933 Ford Street Rod